Sunday 15 September 2019

One in six frontline gardai 'may be suffering from PTSD' - leading psychologist

Dr Finian Fallon
Dr Finian Fallon
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

One in six frontline gardai may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, according to a chartered psychologist who carried out a wellbeing survey for the Garda Representative Association.

Dr Finian Fallon also found that a further 11pc of the force had what he called "sub threshold" PTSD, which had a similar impact on a sufferer but had not yet been fully diagnosed.

His findings are based on a survey in which over 2,200 gardai responded to his questionnaire.

Overall, he said, 27pc may be "walking wounded" from trauma.

Dr Fallon, who is a chartered psychologist and psychotherapist and dean of business and psychology at City Colleges Dublin, outlined his results at the annual conference of the Garda Representative Association in Wexford this morning.

He said the results showed that for frontline association members, at least, the Garda force was a "cauldron for adversity in relation to trauma and wellbeing".

The top ten wellbeing issues confronting the gardai were:

  • Feeling frustrated by the amount of paperwork involved with the job
  • Not possessing the right equipment to do the job properly
  • Believing that senior officers and managers did not appreciate the challenges they faced
  • Witnessing nepotism in appointments to jobs and roles within the force
  • Working unsocial hours that impacted on family and friends
  • Insufficient training in the technical skills required for work
  • Always feeling physically tired because of the hours worked
  • Believing that the overall remuneration package was inadequate
  • Feeling undervalued for their contribution to the wider force
  • And too many work demands to be effective in their role

Association president Ciaran O'Neill said the findings made stark reading and provided fresh evidence of the mental health issues being suffered by their members on the ground, not least post traumatic stress disorder.

He told Acting Garda Commissioner Donal O Cuallain to order a full occupational health survey of all members and respond to the findings by putting the necessary protections in place.

He was supported by Louth delegate Lisa McEntee, who is stationed in Ardee but has also been based in Dublin and has over16 years service in frontline policing.

She said she had been assaulted several times and on one occasion a woman had held a glass to her and scraped her face with her nails.

She had been verbally abused innumerable times, she said, as well as being hit and kicked.

Ms McEntee said those incidents were taking place on a daily basis but there was an expectation that gardai should pick themselves up and return to work.

This was partly a self-expectation, she felt, but was also due partly to the belief that management expected it from members.

Ms McEntee acknowledged there were some support services in place for members, who had been assaulted or under stress but these were not good enough and needed to be better resourced and financed.

At present, Garda human resource management and the Garda employee assistance service have a workplace portal page, accessible to all staff and providing information and resources available in relation to self-care, mental health, physical health and other issues such as bereavement.

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